Overcoming the fear of what other people think.

A while back I heard about a great TedTalk by Brene Brown. A few clients even said ” Have you read Brene Brown? She says what you’re saying. ” I keep meaning to watch her talk but haven’t yet. I even went to her website to check out her blog. I loved the colour, font choice and old fashioned typewrite, but I never got around to reading her blog. I can’t remember if she even has one. But from what I’ve heard, and the look of her site, I’m sure I’d like her.

I was grabbing some detective novels from the library the other day and added Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly to the pile. Finally I was going to get to know Brene.

On page 42 I read something that stopped me. She wrote, “I thought about a paperweight on my desk that reads, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? I pushed that question out of my head to make room for a new question. As I walked up to the stage I literally whispered aloud, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?

I was hot with shame. I could feel myself contract into the smallest version of my self. It was painful to be me. You see I wrote a blog with almost exactly those words. And I thought – what if people think I copied her? What if people think I’m just stealing ideas and promoting them as my own? Shame had been such a constant companion in my past, that it took me a moment to even notice its grip. Once I became aware of that old weight of shame it was quickly replaced with wonder.

Isn’t it curious that my first response should be a crippling shame and fear that people I don’t even know might think less of me, rather than melting with awe that we are all drawing inspiration from the same source, that ideas that want to be in the world will find their way through any willing vehicle, that people who have worked with me and found benefit from it are finding similar messages in other places. Rather than have those as my first response, it was fear about people I don’t even know, people who may not even exist. Fear was getting in the way of love. And the fear was just my imagination.

I hadn’t actually done anything wrong. It was the fear that someone might think I had, that made my stomach turn. I remembered the many times in the past that fear of what others might think stopped me from expressing myself, giving my gifts, and being true. I was surprised to see that fear was still there. But this time I breathed into it. Sat in the discomfort. Remembered who I am without that fear… and the shame dissolved. I then put down the book and turned to a detective novel. Brene and I will meet another day.

The fear of what other people think stops you from expressing yourself, and worse, it stops you from listening to yourself.

People you consider great risk-takers, inventors, change makers and leaders followed their impulses and did what they did in spite of what people might think. But that doesn’t help you right now. So, what can you do?

Over the years I’ve learned to let the love inside me overcome the fear. I don’t do it 100% of the time, but when I do, I allow that love to be expressed in whatever way it wants.

I’ll bet you are braver than me, but if at times you feel the glorious impulse to express what’s inside you, and then you worry about what others will think:

  • Take a moment to breathe and allow that discomfort to be felt.
  • Then connect back to that initial impulse.
  • Feel the expansion of love that wants to move through you.
  • Let that love grow so big inside you that the imagined faces of naysayers dissolves.
  • Then ask yourself:

The love inside you is stronger and softer, more compassionate and inclusive than the fear.

Love Debra

AND…If the world would benefit from someone you know letting their light shine, please feel free to share this with them.

If you want to fly you have to jump.

A friend of mine is going through a big change in her life. Not the kind that’s thrust upon you when you least expect it and have to deal with it. This is a change she’s been talking about for some years. She’s choosing it. Deciding to change is definitely easier than having change thrust upon you, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I can see that this change is a calling from deep within. It’s a nudge to spread her wings and fly. She has decided to leave something that had been secure and safe for almost three decades. It was good in many ways. Comfortable. But staying won’t satisfy her heart, which is longing for freedom, expansion and joy.

She set this transition in motion several months ago. Since then there have been decisions to make, difficult conversations to have, logistics to figure out and lots of work to do. And she’s been doing it all courageously. She’s experienced fear, relief, laughter, tears, doubt, grief and happiness, sometimes all in an afternoon.

As she neared the final stage of this transition she said to me, “I’m thinking of delaying for three months”. My immediate response was “DON’T STOP. KEEP GOING. I know you’re afraid, but delaying it will only prolong the pain. You’re almost at the edge…. JUMP.”  That was scary advice because she felt that much of what she was stepping into was unknown.

When I lived in a little village in Mexico I would lie in bed watching paragliders soaring over our little coastal town. Catching thermals they’d rise and fall with the hawks and vultures. They’d glide over the homes, jungle and ocean to land on the beach.

One day I decided to do it too. I chose a “flyer” who had a very safe reputation. I followed him up the mountain through a narrow path. When we got to the top I was exhausted. He unpacked the sail and secured himself to it. He then harnessed me in front of him, and gave me these instructions:

“Look way out beyond the edge of the cliff and run towards that spot. Run to he edge of the mountain.. and then keep running. Everything in you is going to want to slam on the breaks when you get to the edge of the mountain. Don’t. I’m running behind you and we’re attached. You have to keep running… no matter what.”

I did what he said. I ran. And when there was no more ground beneath my feet I kept on running like a cartoon character hanging in mid air. Suddenly the wind caught us and we were lifted up. We soared. I loved my village, but I had a whole new appreciation seeing it this way. As we glided over homes and hills and trees I got to know it more intimately in a way I never could by keeping my feet on the ground. I saw things I had never seen. I was elated.

Jumping off that cliff required a crazy kind of trust. In my self – I’d done my research and chosen the best person available on the best possible day, In him – his skill, his reputation and his personality gave me comfort, and mostly in life itself. Life will give me what it will, and most of it is out of my control.

If you want to fly JUMP.